Europe is experiencing an increase in its older adult population. In particular, Finland is expected to have the third oldest population in Europe by 2030. The Finnish housing market will need to expand to meet the demands of an older population; however, a hindrance to this expansion is that the government does not regularly collect housing data specific to older adults.
Recently, two Finnish researchers reviewed case studies of ten senior rental residences to assess operational and financial performance during the global economic downturn. The ten case studies came from two companies and one foundation. Company 1, a national provider of housing, owns four senior rental residences. Company 2, a for-profit housing corporation, developed some senior rental residences with a non-profit organization. Foundation 1, a non-profit organization, owns senior rental residences.
Company 1 and Company 2 experienced lower turnover rates in their senior rental residences as opposed to their conventional apartments. However, even with this lower turnover rate, both companies still saw higher vacancy rates compared to their conventional apartments. Smaller-sized senior rental residence units remained occupied, yet larger units remained vacant. This review first uncovered that property operators did not realize that older adults preferred smaller units—and price was a large factor (larger units were more expensive.) Further, operators did not anticipate the higher cost of building senior residences due to amenities necessary to older adults (safety switch-offs, safety telephone systems, etc.)
Overall, new senior housing projects in Finland have slowed down due to the sluggish economy; however, government-subsidized loans have been identified as a possibility for older adults seeking residences in the near future. In sum, the review revealed the need for data regarding senior housing markets. Still greatly unknown are the specific needs and desires of an older adult population, and, to create a profitable senior housing market, this information will be integral. The researchers also recommend studying international senior housing markets to learn further what will work/not work in the future.
Source: Tyvimaa, T. and Gibler, K. (2010.) “Senior House Operations in Finland.” Seniors Housing & Care Journal 18: 77–90.